If you're in Charlotte during April and May, drive north on N.C. 49 to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus to see the botanical gardens (tel. 704/547-2364; www.uncc.edu) in full bloom. The gardens are a wonderland of rhododendrons, azaleas, and native Carolina trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and ferns. A tropical-rainforest conservatory in the gardens' McMillan Greenhouse is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 3pm; admission is free. The outdoor garden is open daily during daylight hours.

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